Communication Builds Our Community

Summer Arts Camp Now Online and Free for All

Lake Wales Arts Council Executive Director Andrew Allen supports the philosophy "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Instead of canceling summer arts camp due to COVID-19 concerns, Allen and his staff found a way to move it 100 percent online and to make it free for all.

Despite cutting enrollment in half, spending thousands of dollars and countless hours developing plans to keep the children and staff safe, Allen finally realized the increasing numbers testing positive for the virus made it impractical to go forward.

"I'm not going to be the only fine arts organization in Central Florida holding an in-person camp," Allen said.

So arts council staffers Brandon Alvarado and Bailee Hebbler stepped up along with Kaylee Morgan and other instructors. So far they have produced 28 fine arts video lessons to be posted on the Lake Wales Arts Council You Tube channel.

"I want to celebrate all the people around me," Allen said. "They did a top flight job and I'm so proud of them."

Allen said grab bags with about $50 in art supplies needed for the lessons have been assembled for the original 80 summer campers. Supply lists will be included with the videos so other children can buy their own materials, readily accessible and affordable through Amazon or in stores like Wal-Mart. Allen said he hopes more donors will step up and help fund additional grab bags for children who would have qualified for partial or full scholarships. Donations can be made online at by designating the gift for summer arts camp.

Allen said it would have been easier to just shut down the summer program like so many other organizations did, but providing fine arts for young people was just too important, especially in a community with an average per capita income of less than $17,000.

"We were saddened by the initial change to an all-digital format, but our students, parents, faculty, and staff's safety is paramount," said Allen. "Our in-person K-12 instruction will return sometime in the near future."

Camp fees are being refunded, although some families decided to donate them or apply them toward future classes. Without the tuition fees the Arts council had to rely on sponsors to cover thousands of dollars in costs for supplies and instructors. Major sponsors include Mountain Lake Community Service, Jahna Foundation, Ruth Marchione Foundation, Orange Blossom Revue, and the Lake Wales Dental Group.

Originally the camp scheduled two sessions that ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for two weeks. Now the lessons can be accessed online any time, from anywhere throughout the months of July and August.

The online art lessons run from about 5 minutes to 25 minutes each and include such topics as making video games, game characters, movie trailers, letter slide shows; drawing animated videos and cartoons, calligrams, 3-D objects and letter art, photography picture collages; making wind, string and percussion instruments; drawing portraits using the grid method; painting a watercolor sunset; drawing flowers; charcoal contour drawings; music lessons about high and low pitch, steady beats and beat versus rhythm.

"We really took something that was horrible for the arts council and made it into a huge community outreach; kids from all over can participate for free," Allen said. "We're trying to be cutting edge, actively engage kids and give the community a quality fine arts education."


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